Tell The Story
Let us begin this week's parsha with a parable from the book "613 Stories on the Taryag Mitzvos" by M. Frankel. There was once a king who went hunting in the forest. He met a young shepherd there and was amazed by his intelligence. The king took the shepherd back to his palace and hired tutors for him. The boy grew to become a very wise man, and the king appointed him to be in charge of his storehouses. The other officers of the king were jealous of this former shepherd, so they fabricated a story to turn the king against him. They claimed that he was stealing from the king's storehouses and using the money to beautify his own home. The king reluctantly summoned the former shepherd and told him that he must inspect his home, in order to see if the charges were substantiated. They went together to his home, and the king found it to be very simply furnished. They went from room to room and there was absolutely no evidence of embezzlement. They came to a room with a locked door. The king asked, "What is in this room?" The officer replied in a low voice, "Nothing, my king. Please let us return to the palace." The king's suspicion was aroused. He asked the officer to open the door. The officer begged the king to spare him humiliation and leave the door locked. The king insisted and the door was opened. The king entered the room and found an old shepherd's bag, walking stick and flute. Why did the officer keep these things in a locked room? The former shepherd explained that from the day that the king brought him to the palace he never forgot that he was once a lowly shepherd. Twice each day he sat in this room to remind himself of this and to reinforce his gratitude to the king. When the king heard this, he knew that the charges against this former shepherd were false, and that he was a loyal servant.
Children . . .
The king changed the shepherd's whole life. He did it in a most unconventional manner. If that shepherd wanted his children to understand the might and kindness of the king, he need only tell them the story of his life. This week's parsha contains the mitzvah of Sipur Yitzias Mitzraim (telling our children the events of the exodus from Egypt). The Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 21) explains why so many mitzvos, prayers, and blessings center on this event. Hashem, by taking us out of Egypt, proved to all that He is in control of everything in the world. Not only that, He changed the laws of nature for the Jewish people. This is a basic pillar in our emunah (faith). It explains Hashem's might and how we came to be His nation. Therefore, every Pesach, fathers tell over their family history (Yitzias Mitzraim) to their sons, explaining how Hashem changed the life of our nation in a most miraculous way.
He Who Hesitates Is Lost
Anyone who has seen matzos being baked notices one thing. Everyone is working very quickly. If you want to bake matzos, you have to be quick. One second too late and you have chametz, not matza. Rav Chaim Friedlander in his book Sifsei Chaim explains that chametz is the result of the natural fermentation process. If you mix flour and water, it will naturally become chametz. Matza, on the other hand, is supernatural. We take the dough out of its natural process by speeding up its baking as fast as possible. Chametz is compared to the yetzer hara of laziness. Laziness wants a person to just lay back and take it easy. The only way to free ourselves from this yetzer hara is to be quick. Do not put off doing a mitzvah. The Torah writes (Shemos 12:17), "And you shall guard the matzos." Rashi quotes the Mechilta who explains, "Guard the mitzvos -- if a mitzvah comes to you, do it immediately."
Children . . .
Do we do our mitzvos immediately? When Imma tells us to get up and get ready for school, we have to start right away. "Imma can I have five more minutes of sleep?" That is the yetzer hara talking, trying to get us to be lazy. Do we do our homework as soon as we come home from school? How about our jobs helping in the house? When we see someone who needs help, do we run to help him? Do we make our brochos right away, or do we wait? Are we on time for davening? Are we early for davening? Don't let our prayers become chametzdik. Zerizus (being quick) is so important that the Tur begins his monumental book with a quote from Pirkei Avos (5:23). Yehuda Ben Teima says, "Be strong as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven." The Mesillas Yesharim writes in the chapter on zerizus that the lazy person does not do evil, but rather evil overtakes him because he does nothing to stop it. Children, let us all do what we are supposed to do RIGHT AWAY. May our zerizus enable us all to overcome the yetzer hara and accomplish great things in life.
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